Hops have a long history in the Rogue Valley and some of the earliest newspaper articles refer to their cultivation to the west of the city.
It is a little odd then that the hop farm we are busily working to restore actually began as a dairy farm in 1906, the Sunny Brook Dairy Farm. Operated by the Lathrop family, working the land as a dairy until the Great Depression when falling dairy prices led to the rethinking of the farm as a viable dairy and the decision to move into hop production. Drawing on the rich hop history already present in the valley, the Lathrops began growing hops in 1936 and rapidly became a major seasonal employer in the valley.
Many local senior citizens or those who summered here have many stories of working the hops or the social events tied into the the annual fall hop harvest. Sunny Brook Farm continued on even as other hop farms began to cease operations or diversify, and by the late 1970's and early 1980's, the farm was the last major hop producer south of the Willamette Valley and production was beginning to wind down.
The hop farm operation was the last major hop producer south of the Willamette Valley into the early 1980's
In 1989, the Lathrop's harvested the last commercial hops to come from the Rogue Valley and sold their land to Wild River Orchards who began to put the land into Pears to supply Harry and David. The land was later purchased by the Naumes Family and continued to be used to farm pears until the early 2000's.
The property was then sold to the City of Grants Pass in 2006. The Food Bank came onto the scene in 2010 when we received permission to plant a concept garden on 2 acres of unused land on the north side of Upper River Road and the rest as they say is history.
After a successful 2010 growing season, we moved all of our production to the farm and have produced around 150,000 pounds of fresh grocery quality produce for hungry individuals and families in our community.
The Josephine County Food Bank and Raptor Creek Farm are operated under Friends of Josephine County Food Bank Network:
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